AAA: Assembly Activists Mark Armenian Genocide Day in Washington

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]

April 30, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]


Washington, DC — Armenian activists from across the United States, in
Washington for the Assembly’s National Conference and Banquet, gathered for
a memorial service at the Bethlehem Chapel of the National Cathedral April
18th to commemorate the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The hour-long inter-denominational service was organized by Diocean Legate
Bishop Vicken Aykazian and joined by the Archbishop of Baltimore Cardinal
William H. Keeler, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, the Rabbi of B’nai Israel Congregation Mathew Simon,
Vicar of the Washington National Cathedral Right Rev. A. Theodore Eastman,
pastor of St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church Father Vertanes Kalaydjian, the
St. Mary Church choir and Orthodox, Presbyterian and Armenian clergy.

The deeply moving and emotional service for the repose of souls,
Hokehankist, which this year coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, or
Yom HaShoah, was also a celebration of life and a reflection of the unity of
purpose and values shared by inter-faith communities in the United States.

The congregation, many of whom traveled hundreds and even thousands of miles
to Washington, heard Cardinal Keeler, Rev. Dr. Edgar and Rabbi Simon speak
of their personal experiences and understanding of the Armenian Genocide.

The more than 250 participants in the Genocide memorial service included
members of the Assembly, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the
Eastern and Western Diocese of the Armenian Church — the cooperating
partners of the Assembly’s April 18-20 National Conference and Banquet.

In his brief address, Rabbi Simon said it was no coincidence that this
solemn day in the history of the Armenian people this year coincided with
the Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“On July 16, 1915, nine decades ago, the American Ambassador to the Ottoman
Empire sent a telegram to the secretary of State in Washington warning
America that a ‘campaign of race extermination is in progress against
peaceful Armenians.’ In the language of the Torah, ‘Your brother’s blood is
crying …’ Yet the crying has continued through the decades. Sadly it shall
until we learn the correct answer to God’s first question: ‘Where is your
brother Abel?’ and the answer is, we are our ‘brother’s keeper’,” Rabbi
Simon said.

In his homily, Cardinal Keeler said it was not until his visit two years ago
to Armenia and a tour of the Genocide Memorial on the hills overlooking
Yerevan that he fully understood the magnitude of what the Armenians endured
in the early years of the 20th century.

“We now reflect together on one of the most tragic events of the 20th
century, the terrible slaughter of so many Armenians in what is aptly
described as genocide, one of the number of events in Armenian history that
brought so many to martyrdom,” Cardinal Keeler said.

In his own homily, Rev. Dr. Edgar underlined the importance of learning from
the lessons of the Genocide to avoid future injustice and bloodshed.

“It is important for us to remember what happened in 1915 to Armenians, what
happened 10 years ago to Rwandans and what will inevitably happen over and
over again. If we do not speak out against injustice wherever it might be
found, history will repeat itself. We have to always ask: When will we ever
learn?” Rev. Dr. Edgar said.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


Turkish-Armenian-Greek Film Festival at Univ. Minnesota

Department of History
University of Minnesota
614 Social Sciences
267 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA

phones: 612.624.7506
fax: 612.624.7096
e-mail: [email protected]

Contact: Eric D. Weitz, Professor of History
Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair in the College of Liberal Arts
Director, Center for German and European Studies

Please note what is most likely the first-ever Turkish, Armenian, and
Greek Film Festival, “Borderlands,” beginning today, April 30, and
running through May 6, 2004 at the University of Minnesota. Among the
highlights are a keynote lecture by the noted journalist and
intellectual, Etyen Mahcupyan, and, especially,


Long thought to be lost, a 15 minute excerpt has been found by the
French scholar, Dr. Philippe Videlier, and will be shown on Saturday,
May 1 and Tuesday, May 4!

For details please see:

ASBAREZ Online [04-30-2004]


1) ANC Capitol Hill Observance Honors Balakian, Canadian Legislator
2) Elected Officials Express Dismay at US Apathy on Genocide
3) Chirac: Turkey Not Fit for EU Entry
4) The Passing of Archbishop Zareh Aznavourian
5) Genocide Acknowledgement–Bushwhacked Again!

1) ANC Capitol Hill Observance Honors Balakian, Canadian Legislator


WASHINGTON, DC–Over 40 Members of Congress joined with several hundred
Armenian Americans from across the country this week to honor victims and
survivors of the Armenian Genocide, at the 10th annual ANCA Observance on
Capitol Hill. Special guests at the Observance included New York Times Best
Selling author Peter Balakian, who received the ANCA Freedom Award for his
tireless efforts to document the US humanitarian response to the Armenian
Genocide in his landmark book, “The Burning Tigris.”
Longtime Canadian Armenian community supporter and champion of the recently
adopted Armenian Genocide resolution, the Honorable Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral,
spoke poignantly of worldwide efforts to recognize this crime against
Senators and Representatives, as well as Congressional staff representing
100 Congressional offices, were greeted by over 400 community members, many of
whom travel annually to Washington, DC to attend the Capitol Hill Observance
and discuss Armenian American concerns with their elected representatives. The
program was held in the historic Cannon Caucus Room.

2) Elected Officials Express Dismay at US Apathy on Genocide


MONTEBELLO–Once again, the Armenian-American community of Montebello and
surrounding communities observed the anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide
with an April 23 rally and vigil candlelight at the foot of the Armenian
Martyrs’ Monument, organized by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of San
Gabriel Valley (ANC-SGV). This year’s message was a collective call to
political action by the Armenian community. The rally opened with introductory
remarks by Tamar Sadorian, who then invited the evening’s master of
Serge Samoniantz, to conduct the event.
Special guest speaker Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-34th District)
one of many public officials who expressed dismay at the US government’s
failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Napolitano, a staunch supporter of Armenian-American concerns,
presented a
keen view of the community’s obstacles in having the genocide recognized by
Bush Administration and the backers of the Turkish deniers. She noted that her
efforts and those of her colleagues in the Congress would, nevertheless,
continue until justice is served to the Armenian people.
Introduced by San Gabriel Valley ANC member Jack Hadjinian, Montebello
Mayor Norma Reid-Lopez presented a proclamation from the City of Montebello
unanimously declaring April 24 a Day of Remembrances for the Victims of the
Armenian Genocide.
Special assistant to Sheriff Lee, Baca Captain Gary A. Nalbandian,
representing Baca, presented plaque from the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
Nalbandian closed his remarks with a rousing Armenian remark: “Struggle until
Speaking on behalf of the youth, Mesrobian Armenian School Associated
Body officer and Montebello AYF member Angie Achikian, conveyed willingness to
take on the torch from the older generation and continue until final success.
Emcee Serge Samoniantz recognized the public officials present, including
Montebello City Council members Bob Bagwell, and Bill Molinari, as well as
Police Chief Gary Couso-Vasquez, Gil Cedillo Jr., from Assemblyman Ron
Calderon’s (D-58th) office, and Greg Martayan, a former LA City Commissioner,
who is running for a Los Angeles City Council seat in the San Fernando Valley.
Also attending were ARF Western Region Central Committee chairman Hovig
ARF Dro Gomideh chairman Sako Sassounian, and Armenian Mesrobian School
principal Hilda Saliba.
Before introducing the final speaker, Samoniantz announced the arrival of
the Homenetmen Western Region Scouts who had marched from Pasadena, a distance
of about eight miles, to pay their respects to the genocide victims, with a
candlelight procession.
San Gabriel Valley ANC Chairman Seto Boyajian, delivered the keynote
address recounting steps taken by the Armenian community to advance
of the Armenian Genocide in the United States. He assailed Pres. Bush’s
inability to come to terms with the Armenian Genocide and his unwillingness to
properly characterize the 1915 events as Genocide in his annual April 24
statement, emphasizing Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Kohn Kerry’s
lengthy and meaningful message calling for the international recognition of
The program concluded with the traditional distribution of candles to the
audience, the candlelit gathering around the monument plaque, and the solemn
Requiem Service conducted by the clergy of the Holy Cross Cathedral.

3) Chirac: Turkey Not Fit for EU Entry

PARIS (AP/Zaman)–Turkey’s aspirations to be the first Muslim-majority member
of the European Union took a hit Thursday when French President Jacques Chirac
said Ankara most likely will not meet the bloc’s conditions for another 10-15
Speaking at his first full-fledged news conference in six years, Chirac also
said the upcoming transfer of power in Iraq must be “unambiguous” and the
US-led occupation authorities must cede complete control to an Iraqi
The French president said Turkey needed to improve its human rights record
reform its justice system before being considered for EU membership.
“Is Turkey’s entry possible today? I say ‘No,'” he said.
But Turkey could become a member “in the perspective of 10-to-15 years,”
Chirac said. “My conviction is that it is in the long term.”
Asked whether the recognition of the Armenian genocide would be taken as a
precondition for Turkey’s EU membership, Chirac said it was an issue between
Turkey and Armenia.
Turkey, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and a part of NATO since
1952, is hoping to begin talks next year on joining the EU. Ten new members
joining the 15-nation union on Saturday.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity that
accepted Chirac’s comments but still hoped the EU would open membership talks
in 2005.
“Negotiations are one thing, and membership is another,” the official said.
“Chirac was speaking about the long term. There’s nothing new about what he
Chirac’s news conference came weeks after Foreign Minister Michel Barnier
parliament that France would oppose Turkey’s entry.
The European Commission in November noted Turkey’s “significant progress” in
meeting the EU’s conditions, but said more needed to be done.

4) The Passing of Archbishop Zareh Aznavourian

His Eminence Archbishop Zareh Aznavourian died on Friday, in Lebanon, at 57
years of age.
Archbishop Zareh faithfully served the Armenian Apostolic Church as an
ordained celibate priest for 38 years, most of which was spent at the
Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon; he spent two
years in Rome pursuing a higher education, and three years as the Prelate of
Archbishop Zareh was an eminent teacher at the Cilician See’s Theological
Seminary. He was a noted composer of both religious and secular music, a
scholar, a Biblical translator, and an author of textbooks and
commentaries. He
was considered one of the most noted Biblical scholars within the Armenian
The Extreme Unction will take place during the Divine Liturgy service at the
Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias, on Monday, May 3.
Interment will follow in the Mausoleum of the Holy See of Cilicia.
Requiem Services will take place in all Prelacy churches on Sunday, May 2.

5) Genocide Acknowledgement–Bushwacked Again!

“There’s an old saying in TennesseeI know it’s in Texas, probably in
Tennesseethat says, fool me once, shame onshame on you. Fool meyou can’t get
fooled again.”
–George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002.

Another anniversary of the Armenian Genocide passed last week, and Armenians
were presented another impotent statement by the Bush administration omitting
the word “genocide.” After reading the recent articles on all Genocide
reaffirmation-related news this last week, I remembered the above quote from
President Bush which pretty much sums up how I feel. Come November, when I
my vote for the candidate opposing President Bush, I’m going to write the
House a letter referencing this “old saying in Tennessee.”
It’s been four years since President Bush promised to properly acknowledge
Armenian Genocide in a statement as candidate for the nation’s highest office
and after being elected, became afflicted with severe selective memory loss
(Weapons of Mass Destruction, Service in the Air National Guard, the Armenian
Genocide, etc). I didn’t expect much from someone who had a “C” average
throughout college, but I also expected that four years would be enough
time to
cram for the Genocide final. It seems as though he still doesn’t get it. But
what’s worse is that some Armenian-Americans still don’t get it either. And
even worse than that? There’s one group out there, the Armenian Assembly of
America (AAA) who not only is supposed to get it, but is also supposed to go
after it and pursue it. (“Supposed to” is the operative term here).
My favorite article was the one issued by the AAA which stated that the AAA
“…expressed surprise and disappointment in President Bush’s statement…which
used language to clearly define the events but once again stopped short of
using the word genocide.” In 2001, when President Bush didn’t use the word
“genocide,” the AAA expressed “regret and disappointment.” In 2002, the AAA
praised the President for his toothless statement by saying that by using the
word “murder” he invoked the same words as US Ambassador to the Ottoman
Henry Morgenthau, Sr. I guess since I use the words “the” and “and” I’m
invoking such greats as Shakespeare and Hemingway in my writing.
I tried to find out what the AAA reaction was to the President’s statement in
2003, but there were no press releases posted on their website for April 24 of
that year (). Fortunately, the Armenian National Committee of
America had a press release and the statement posted on their site
(). I had forgotten what a doozy the 2003 statement was. The
President referred to the genocide as the “great calamity” and get this…
saluted “our wise and bold friends from Armenia and Turkey who are coming
together in a spirit of reconciliation to consider these events and their
significance.” (Skeptik looks pensive and rubs chin–MAJOR SARCASM ALERT IN
5…4…3…2…) So, that’s where our friend’s at the AAA were in 2003? They were
coming together to reconcile our “differences” with the murdering, lying,
sneaky, fraudulent government of Turkey who is responsible for murdering my
ancestors and then denying the crime. And I thought they were up to no good.
Well, I guess it’s fine that they didn’t issue a press release in 2003 and we
can all rest better knowing these guys are looking out for us.
Am I going to only pick on the AAA, you ask? How about we make a deal? When
you have your own column, you can do whatever you want! As far as the AAA is
concerned, I can’t honestly believe that in 2004, after being used and abused
for four years, after they praised the President’s 2002 statement and didn’t
issue one in 2003, that they were genuinely “surprised.” They must think that
either we’re idiots or that we will understand and have pity on them for being
idiots. I have some advice for the AAA that may console them seeing as to how
shocked and surprised they must be by Bush’s statement–There’s an old saying
in that state of Tennessee which recently acknowledged the Armenian Genocide
for the first time. Yup, there’s a saying there–I don’t think they have the
same saying in Turkey or in Texas–but it says “Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on me for sticking
around, and fool me four times, its no surprise!”

Skeptik Sinikian is not a psychiatrist nor a licensed therapist but offers
clinics to help Armenian organizations cope with dikephobia (fear of justice)
and ideophobia (fear of ideas). If you would like to “surprise” Skeptik, write
to him at [email protected]

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AAA: Assembly Thanks Sponsors and Supporters

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]

April 30, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]


Potomac, MD -The Armenian Assembly has come a long way since its
establishment 32 years ago, vigorously expanding its power base and circle
of supporters and friends in the United States, including key members in the
Washington diplomatic, political and business communities.

The strength of these ties were evident April 17 when more than 125 Assembly
members and guests — many from as far away as Florida, Maine and California
– gathered in the grand suburban Washington home of Assembly Board of
Directors Vice Chair Annie Totah for the Sponsor and Supporter Recognition
and Appreciation Reception – an evening with the singular purpose of saying
thank you, especially to the Life Trustees, Endowment contributors, Board
Members, benefactors, patrons and corporate sponsors of the Assembly’s
National Conference and Banquet.

“All our activists are volunteers who contribute both in time and financial
resources to help the Assembly do its work … to advocate on behalf of all
issues, small and large, on behalf of the American Armenian community and of
course Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. We cannot stop thanking them, but at
least once a year, we devote a special event just to honor them and say how
important their role is,” said Totah in her welcoming remarks to a house
full of guests that included Assembly Board of Trustees Chairman Hirair
Hovnanian, present and past Board of Directors Chairmen Anthony Barsamian
and Peter Vosbikian, other Trustee and Board Members, several ambassadors,
diplomats, state representatives, and community activists.

What was originally slated as a social event – on the eve of the Assembly’s
National Conference and Banquet which Ms. Totah also chaired — took a
serious turn in response to Hovnanian’s invitation for comments from two of
the special guests and key leaders of the American Jewish Committee (AJC):
AJC Washington Chapter President Ambassador Peter Rosenblatt and AJC
National Council Chair Ms. Dottie Bennett, who reiterated their deep
understanding of Armenian issues and support for affirmation of the Armenian

Bennett, who was recently appointed as a member of the governing body of the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, spoke of the close moral ties between the
Armenian and Jewish communities based on their mutual respect for human
rights, ethics and justice.

“We have a lot in common and I am sure we will continue working together on
many issues, including the Armenian Genocide which must be recognized for
what it was — Genocide,” Bennett said.

“At the AJC, we will work to make the Armenian Genocide recognition happen –
this long overdue recognition. We have new opportunities to push the
Genocide recognition agenda forward,” she said.

On his part, Rosenblatt spoke of the existing cooperation between the AJC
and the Assembly on issues of mutual concern.

“Both our nations have suffered enormous tragedies and this has brought us
together. We have enormous similarities, and that should make us great
allies, despite some differences which we have,” Rosenblatt said.

As much as sentiments of support were a source of exhilaration, the guests
also had an opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie, the hospitality and
cultural program put together especially for the evening by event hosts,
Annie and Sami Totah.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of a plaque of
appreciation to the host of the memorable evening, Ms. Totah, by Assembly
Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian who thanked her for her
diligence, enthusiasm, decades of activism and effective support and
involvement in all Assembly endeavors.

Totah not only opened her home for the event, but also personally joined in
a special program to entertain the assembled guests with a rendition of new
Armenian songs by Marine Ales, followed by a dance by a member of the
Washington Arca Ballet Group performing Nargegatsi’s monologue, and a
classical music interlude by the talented Poochikian family – with concert
violinist Mrs. Nayiri Poochikian and her young and talented daughters Hourig
and Roubina.

The Armenian Assembly of America would like to thank the following Event
Benefactors and Sponsors for their support of the National Conference and

Corporate Sponsors

Mr. and Mrs. Gerard L. Cafesjian
Hovchild Partnership: Siran Sahakian, Edele Hovnanian, Tanya Hovnanian,
Leela Hovnanian, Armen Hovnanian Partners
Mr. and Mrs. Hirair Hovnanian
Physician’s Skin Care, PLLC, Dr. Levon and Elizabeth Kircik
Mrs. Carolyn Mugar
Made in Armenia Direct
Annie S. Totah Partnership for Brighter Tomorrows
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Vosbikian

Event Benefactor

Hovnanian International
Mr. & Mrs. Jack Kalaydjian
Hagop & Ica Kouyoumdjian
Ms. Anoush Mathevosian
K. George & Dr. Carolann Najarian
Stephen Philibosian Foundation
Mrs. Lucy Ishkanian-Tankian

Event Sponsors

Dr. & Mrs. Murat Acemoglu
Mr. & Mrs. Jim Batmasian
Ms. Ida Boodakian
Mr. & Mrs. Hrant Candan
Ms. Joan Demurjian
Hon. Aram Garabedian
Mr. & Mrs. Edgar Hagopian
Samuel & Barbara Hagopian
Stephen & Arda Haratunian
Mr. & Mrs. Jirair Hovnanian
Mr. Papken Janjigian
Mr. & Mrs. Harold Keshishian
Dr. Haroutune & Shake Mekhjian
Mr. & Mrs. Edward Norian
Ms. Janice Norian
Hon. & Mrs. Ken Norian
Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Ohanian
Sarkis and Mary Satian
Mr. Bob Semonian
Mr. Charles Talanian
Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Tufenkian
Mrs. Rita Walden

Photographs available on the Assembly’s Web site at the following link:

Caption: L to R: Tunisian Ambassador and Mrs. Hatem Atallah, National
Conference and Banquet Chair Annie Totah, HE Ambassador Armand Kirakossian
of Armenia, and HE Ambassador Kassahun Ayele of Ethiopia at the Sponsor and
Supporter Recognition and Appreciation Reception hosted by Totah.

Caption: L to R: Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian, AJC
National Council Chair Mrs. Dottie Bennett, Dr. Richard Morton, AJC
Washington Chapter President Ambassador Peter Rosenblatt, and Mrs. Naomi
Rosenblatt at the Sponsor and Supporter Recognition and Appreciation
reception hosted by National Conference and Banquet Chair Annie Totah.

Caption: L to R: Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian,
Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Suzan Blumenthal, Mrs. Annie Totah and Rep.
Edward Markey at the Sponsor and Supporter Recognition and Appreciation
reception hosted by National Conference and Banquet Chair Annie Totah.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


Solid Economic Policy Must Be A Priority

The Georgian Messenger
30 April 2004
Solid Economic Policy Must Be A Priority

By M. Alkhazashvili
According to a study conducted by the World Bank, Georgia is one of the 64
countries with the lowest per-capita incomes in the world. Also on the list
are the post-Soviet countries of Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
and Uzbekistan. According to the calculations of World
Bank analysts, the main reason behind the poverty in these countries is the
lack of adequate financing for social programs, health care and education.

The Georgian government intends to fight poverty with a special program
adopted last year during the Shevardnadze administration. This program
foresees economic growth in the country by the year 2015. The new government
has talked about making certain changes in the program and some analysts
point out that if this document does not undergo some alterations, reducing
poverty in the country will be an exceedingly difficult task.

Many foreign experts are of the same opinion. They predict a rather grim
future for Georgia and its neighboring countries. Due to the complicated
social and political situation, Georgia’s population is projected to
decrease by 1.5 million by the year 2015, rendering it less than 3 million.
The population of Armenia, meanwhile, will fall slightly to 3 million and
that of Azerbaijan will increase to 9 million. But population
growth in Azerbaijan will not be caused by good living conditions. On the
contrary, it will further inflame the problem of poverty.

As analysts say, in order to overcome the current dire situation, it is
necessary to develop a wholly new economic vision. So far, the government is
continuing to follow the priorities of the old administration – that is,
focusing on the budget, pensions and salaries. If we closely examine these
notions, Solid economic policy must be a priority however, we see that there
is nothing behind them. The amount of the country’s budget is insignificant
and salaries and pensions are miniscule. In other words, we need to put
these old priorities aside, though not
as unimportant issues, but rather we should view a strong budget and
sufficient salaries and pensions as a consequence of a well-thought-out
economic policy.

Nothing yet can be said about the new government’s vision for the nation’s
economy, as no such document has been adopted that expresses a coherent
vision. A new economic vision must first of all mean the creation of a new
tax code. Work on a new code is underway, but the hurried pace of this work
creates the danger that many mistakes will be made. One specialist who has
seen the draft code warns that it looks no better than its predecessor and
little change is visible. These mistakes will be difficult to correct in the
future. Without a consistent and liber-al economic policy, the nation’s
economic and consequently political and social development will be stalled
for several years.

Azerbaijan fears reopening Turkish-Armenian border

The Georgian Messenger
30 April 2004

Prepared by Anna Arzanova
Azerbaijan fears reopening Turkish-Armenian border

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev
went to Ankara where held negotiations with senior Turkish leadership.
President Aliev met with the Ambassador of Turkey to Baku Unal Chevikez on
the eve of his journey and discussed details
of his visit. “The achievements of Turkey make us happy and the achievements
of Azerbaijan make Turkey happy. I am very happy that
important steps were and are taken in this direction,” stated Aliev. Despite
such an optimistic tone, the experts in Baku noticed that there is
some tension in the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The problem is that authorities in Turkey are inclined to establish a normal
border-customs regime with Armenia in the near future. According to Turkish
diplomatic sources, there really are intense, informal diplomatic contacts
on this issue between Yerevan and Ankara. The fact of such negotiations was
also confirmed by the former Minister of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, the
leader of the National Democratic Party, Iskender Gamidov.

Baku has a very sickly reaction to the possibility of changes along the
Turkish-Armenian border and even tries to dissuade officials in
Ankara. Aliev stated once again that he is against the opening of the
Turkish-Armenian boarder, because this step will not contribute to
settle the Karabakh conflict peacefully.

Popular newspaper editor takes over MP-owned television company

Heir to Air: Popular newspaper editor takes over MP-owned television company
30 April 2004

By Zhanna Alexanyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
The editor of a leading oppositional newspaper has taken over leadership of
a Yerevan television company that has tangential government affiliation.
The new director.

Aram Abrahamyan, editor of Aravot (Morning), Armenia’s leading daily, has
been named director of the former Kentron (Center) television company, an
enterprise recently purchased by pro-government National Assembly member and
businessman Murad Guloyan. The newly-named company will air May 10.

The TV company was previously owned (for one year) by another MP, Gurgen
Arsenyan. Recent coverage by the channel of oppositional party
demonstrations was not favorable for the government, leading to speculation
that Arsenyan was later pressured by authorities to sell the company.

The appointment has raised questions of whether the oppositional journalist
and the MP-owned television company will have matching ambitions for how the
station should position itself in Armenia’s media, broadly divided according
to political persuasion.

Media observers are further intrigued that Abrahamyan will be inheriting a
channel that, in its inception two years ago, helped kick A1+ off the
airwaves, stirring a controversy alleging government censorship which
continues these two years later.

(In April 2002, A1+, the republic’s leading oppositional channel, lost its
license in a disputed bidding war in which a presidential-appointed
commission gave the license to Sharm, primarily an entertainment and
advertising company that did not even have a reporting staff at the time.
Guloyan bought the company last week .)

Abrahamyan was in fact a co-founder, with Mesrop Movsisyan, of A1+ in 1991
and until the channel lost its license, was host of its most popular talk
show, “Post Script”.

Abrahamyan says he puts his journalistic reputation behind his new role and
that Aravot television will in fact join efforts to see A1+ resume
broadcast. But he says any speculation that Aravot will become the new A1+
are “absurd”.

“The Aravot TV, which I will be heading will become a rostrum from where we
will always speak about the opening of A1+,” Abrahamyan says. “I will be
participating in all kinds of events (marches, demonstrations) which will be
organized in support of A1+.”

Abrahamyan goes so far, in fact, to say that should the National TV and
Radio Commission hold a contest for the 37 th frequency (currently held by
Aravot, but previously belonging to A1+), “we will not take part in it and
will do everything possible to help A1+ win the contest”.

The new director dismisses notions that either his newspaper or his
television company should be labeled.

“Political figures can be oppositional or pro-governmental but these
categories must not touch us,” he says.

Guloyan, who is in his first term as MP, was elected on the ticket of the
Republican party (though he, himself, is not a member). Not a well-known
figure in Armenia, he is the owner of Milta, a food-production company. He
comes from the same village as Armenian strongman Gagik “Dodi Gago”
Tsarukyan. Some interested parties have speculated that the powerful
millionaire is behind the purchase of the television company, which is
believed to have sold for $500,000.

Recent news programming (prior to Guloyan’s purchase) by Kentron was praised
by Abrahamyan, especially for its coverage of the violent April 13 clash
between State police and oppositional protestors.

Kentron, “was the most independent media among all others,” Abrahamyan says.

But others are claiming that those very reports riled the government and
that Arsenyan was “forced” by high-level government officials to sell his
company because of his company’s broadcast of the clashes between police and

It is an opinion shared by A1+ director Mesrop Movsesyan.

Movsesyan says that, when A1+ was denied its license, President Robert
Kocharyan promised to create another company like it. Kentron, Movsisyan
says, was to have been that channel.

“The president wanted to do that via Gurgen Arsenyan,” Movsisyan says, “but
when Arsenyan stumbled, he was forced to sell Kentron.”

Unofficial talk in Yerevan is that Kocharyan in fact called a meeting with
Arsenyan following the broadcasts of the April 13 events.

Ashot Kocharyan, spokesman for the President told ArmeniaNow there is no
record of a meeting between the President and Arsenayn. The spokesman had no
comment on rumors to that effect.

ArmeniaNow attempted to get Arsenyan’s version of the claims. He said he is
reserving comment on the matter until after the new company begins its
broadcast. Asked whether Arsenyan had been pressured into selling Kentron,
an assistant for Arsenyan said the MP “does not wish to speak about it now”.

Movsesyan, meanwhile, criticizes his former colleague Abrahamyan for taking
the directorship of a company that effectively put A1+ off the air.

“By making that decision, he (Abrahamyan) demonstrated that he has changed
his team,” Movsisyan said. “Of course, this country always needed an
imitator like Aram in the struggle of freedom of speech, and such person was
found. Aram is a good journalist and he can create an imitation of an
independent channel. I’m only surprised that he agreed to that.”

Abrahamyan, though, refutes accusations that he has switched his political
allegiance by assuming a position seen as connected to the government.

The journalist says he is confident the new owner will not use the
television company as a rostrum for advancing his politics.

“It’s just a business for him to make investments for gaining profits in the
future,” Abrahamyan says. “I’m sure this is the only way for creating
independent media. Media, but not the means for propaganda.”

Abrahamyan, a musicologist by profession, graduated Yerevan State
Conservatory and defended his Ph.D. thesis. He served as press secretary for
the first president after independence, Levon Ter Pertrosyan. He became
editor of Aravot newspaper in 1994.

Before hosting the A1+ talk show, Abrahamyan had been host of various music

“I always dreamt of working in TV,” he says. “When I first came to TV in
1983 I realized it was my world and I had always been dreaming of working

His aim at Aravot TV, he says, is to direct a company that serves the public
need for reliable information.

“The strategic goal of the TV company is to become an informational and
public channel like Freedom radio station,” says Abrahamyan.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Margaryan Killing: Preliminary inquiry nears its end

Margaryan Killing: Preliminary inquiry nears its end
30 April 2004

By Zhanna Alexanyan reporter

The lawyer for the family of Gurgen Margaryan has been in Budapest for
consultations on the case against the Azerbaijani officer accused of
murdering him.

Nazeli Vardanyan, a member of the Armenian International Lawyers Union, met
with her Hungarian colleague Gabriela Gaspar to familiarize herself with
details of the preliminary investigation.

Vardanyan is representing the interests of the legal successors of
Margaryan, the Armenian officer violently murdered on February 19 while
attending a NATO Partnership for Peace training program in Budapest. She
also represents a second Armenian officer, Hayk Makuchyan, who is recognized
as a victim in the case.

The preliminary inquiry is expected to be completed within two to three
weeks. Senior Lieutenant Ramil Sarafov, one of two Azerbaijani officers
attending the same NATO program, is accused of hacking Margaryan to death
with an axe while he slept and of attempting to murder Makuchyan. The
soldiers were attending NATO’s “Partners for Peace” conference.

Vardanyan received her legal education in Yerevan and completed postgraduate
study at the Institute of State and Law Studies of the Russian Academy of
Sciences in Moscow . She is also a graduate of the American University of
Armenia. An international law specialist, Vardanyan speaks English and

Tigran Janoyan, head of the union, which is providing legal support to
Vardanyan, states that Sarafov allegedly murdered Margaryan then tried to
break into Makuchyan’s room. The preliminary investigation has recorded that
marks from a sharp-edged instrument were found around the door latch and
that the Azeri officer called to Makuchyan to come out of his room.

“Both of them were recognized as victims and the most important is that the
crime was directed only against Armenian citizens. The national factor, the
fact of being Armenian, was the motive for the crime,” says Janoyan.

Immediately after the incident, Azerbaijani authorities sought to classify
it as a simple dispute. Janoyan says: “So far, the investigation hasn’t
managed to collect any information showing there to have been a conflict
between the Azeri and Armenian officers or demonstration of antipathy.”

The attorney believes that the Azeri side is seeking to cloak a criminal act
in the imagery of national heroism by developing a hypothesis of revenge for
deaths in Khojalu during the war in Nagorno Karabakh.

“This contradiction is also clear to Hungarian authorities, particularly to
the body in charge of the preliminary investigation. If they try to turn the
trial into a political show, I think we will also be ready to present the
reality of the Khojalu events,” says Janoyan, underlining that at present
the Armenian side has no desire to leave the legal field.

He says the investigation found that “the axe recognized as the weapon was
purchased in advance, about two weeks before the incident in Budapest”.

According to a statement from the second Azeri officer who attended the NATO
meeting, Safarov “purchased the axe as a souvenir for his father”. Janoyan
questions whether the huge instrument – 65 centimeters long, with a blade
measuring 17 by 12 – was really “the best souvenir to bring from Hungary to
the Southern Caucasus”.

He argues: “Safarov planned cruel crimes against Armenian officers. He
purchased the crime instrument, chose a residential section of the
educational building and step by step committed the crime. The murder of the
second Armenian officer didn’t take place as a result of circumstances over
which the criminal couldn’t establish control.”

The scene of the crime has been thoroughly examined. Traces of blood
allegedly left by the criminal while searching for Makuchyan’s room were

Hungarian law provides 10 to 15 years or life imprisonment for murder. The
court has yet to decide whether the trial will be public. If he is
convicted, the possibility of Sarafov being transferred to his homeland to
serve his sentence is not excluded.

“Azerbaijan and Hungary have signed a convention on extradition of convicted
persons, although it doesn’t require mandatory extradition. The Hungarian
side must decide whether to extradite him or not,” says Vardanyan. ” Hungary
is preparing to join the European Union on May 1 and I don’t think there
will be any pressure on the court because they want to prove to the world
that they are ready to be a member of this structure. We are not passive, in
our turn, to allow pressure to be exerted.”

Anti-smoking campaign must change minds as well as habits

Dying for a Cigarette: Anti-smoking campaign must change minds as well as

30 April 2004

By Marianna Grigoryan reporter

An appealing cigarette advertisement placed in newspapers comes with two
cigarettes attached, carefully wrapped in transparent cellophane. That ad
was available to everyone and offered real temptation especially for
teenagers, for whom such material offers an incentive to take up the
smoking habit.

A year ago health care specialists hoped that the adoption of a law project
on cigarettes would introduce restrictions in this area. However, in March
2004 the National Assembly rejected the law On Cigarettes for the second
time. Cigarette commercials and propaganda got back on track after that and,
according to sales statistics, the number of smokers started growing.

According to statistics today around 70% of men in Armenia are smokers.
There’s no precise information regarding women since many hide their
addictive habit. However, experts believe that smoking is increasing rapidly
among women, partly out of a popular view that a woman who smokes is
stylish, modern and sexy.

Health care specialists are particularly concerned by the situation among
teenagers, which they say indicates a lack of attention in Armenia to the
seriousness of smoking.

“They smoke everywhere, in cafes, even in buses,” says the chairman of Human
Health charitable organization David Petrosyan. “If you try to reprimand
someone you’ll either be considered a bad person or you’ll get an ironical
smile, since the law defining this field does not exist and anti-smoking
control in Armenia is very weak. And doctors are not ready to explain to
people the real threat of this habit.”

Petrosyan says that the law On Cigarettes could change the situation to some
degree by beginning to curtail the epidemic of smoking. It proposed serious
restrictions on cigarette advertisement, smoking in public places and in
many aspects of this sphere.

Color advertisements in newspapers and magazines and on TV would have been
prohibited. Smoking would have been banned in schools and at other
institutions for children, while cigarette companies would have been barred
from sponsoring TV and radio programs for youngsters . (A current law on
advertisement places certain restrictions on cigarette advertisement, but
the law has been mostly ignored since the new law was rejected.)

“Diseases, disablement and mortality from smoking have reached unbelievable
levels among us today. The indexes on lung cancer are causing concern,” says
Petrosyan. “Unfortunately, MPs don’t take the situation seriously. The draft
law was rejected in a similarly unserious atmosphere, since no one thought
that by rejecting law they would not be elected tomorrow. The public has to
change its opinion on this issue.”

Public opinion in Armenia may appear indifferent now, but Alexander
Bazarchyan, the anti-smoking project coordinator at Armenia’s Health
Ministry, says individuals and organizations that are interested in this
issue will do everything to change the situation.

“The law has already been rejected twice but, a year on, the anti-smoking
fight is now pretty active,” says Bazarchyan. “Non-government organizations,
media have become more active, new events are being organized.”

Petrosyan says there will be a fresh attempt soon to pass the law in the
National Assembly. He says: “We’re working and doing some clarifications in
that direction. The anti-smoking struggle is not something of one or two
days. At the end of the day, the rights of non-smokers have to be protected
as well.”

Bazarchyan says an anti-smoking campaign under the slogan “Cigarettes and
Poverty” is planned in Yerevan on May 31, which is World Anti-Smoking Day. A
website is being opened () with information and
statistics on smoking in Armenia, and there are plans to publish a book
setting out the real dangers of cigarettes.

Animal deaths, threat to humans continue to plague village

Outbreak in Aygabats: Animal deaths, threat to humans continue to plague
30 april 2004

By Marianna Grigoryan reporter

A case of human anthrax infection is believed to have been found in the
Aygabats village of Shirak region. Last week, ArmeniaNow reported an
outbreak of the disease that had caused the deaths of 40 cattle. Tigran

On Tuesday (April 27), villager Harutyun Khachatryan, who had been in
contact with the infected animals, showed symptoms of anthrax infection and
was taken to hospital in Gyumri.

Doctors say Khachatryan is in satisfactory condition, but, in the village
tensions are high, as animals continue to die.

“This week the number of dead animals in the village has reached 48,” says
head of the village Gagik Altunyan. “The village is still in quarantine,
members of the committee pay frequent visits and do tests, but our situation
is still unclear.”

The outbreak started after April 15 when animals began to die following
anti-anthrax vaccinations.

The chief veterinary doctor of the republic Anushavan Aghajanyan visited the
village and expressed a preliminary opinion that the reason of the cattle’s
death was anthrax.

A special committee was formed to determine if the cause of the outbreak was
the vaccine. Tests were sent to Moscow for evaluation.

Minister of Agriculture David Lokyan would not reveal the name of the
company producing the vaccine. He did say, however, that if tests proved the
vaccine was faulty, compensation for the villagers would be demanded of the

“Information that the reason of deaths in Aygabats is our vaccine is
slander,” said director of Biopreparat LLC Tigran Sahakyan.

Sahakyan says that only 15 days ago more than 400 cattle in the Vayk region
were vaccinated with the same vaccine and there have been no ill effects

“The vaccine has been produced during five years by the same scientific
group and during those years we have done 10 million vaccinations of animals
in different regions of the republic,” says Sahakyan. “And there’s never
been such a case. Though it’s true that vaccination time coincided with the
time when animals died, that alone is not enough to accuse out company. If
during five years we provided the vaccine with absolutely no problems, this
already shows for itself.”

Sahakyan says that before the vaccine is administered it is tested by
specialists and that such tests revealed no problems with the medicine
applied in Aygabats.

The vaccine .
“There are no components in the vaccine which can cause anthrax,” he says.
“The product itself can fight against anthrax but it cannot cause that

Doctor of veterinary sciences, Meruzhan Zadayan was among scientists
investigating the Aygabats case and says the vaccine is not to blame.

“The anti-anthrax serum is one of the few vaccinations that has strict
rules,” says Zadayan. “It is obvious that these rules have been violated in
the village.”

According to the specialist, the vaccine cannot be used for instance on
animals in the last stages of pregnancy, or during cold or hot weather, or
on exhausted animals. Nor can it be combined with other vaccines. (In
Aygabats at the time of vaccination, nights reached temperatures below

According to Zadayan the anti-anthrax vaccine was used on cows and mixed
with a separate vaccine for another disease.

“I don’t want to rush, but the problem in Aygabats is obviously different,
there are indexes of several diseases,” says Sahakyan. “Not only
non-vaccinated cattle has died but dogs and cats as well. They do not get
infected with anthrax.”